This seemingly “never-ending” Kenyan Election, By Favour Afolabi

Favour Afolabi

The writer attempts to defend Nigeria’s ill functioning system with Kenya’s shortcomings especially in her 2013 presidential election.

When some Nigerian Intellectuals begin to regale you with stories of how “other African countries” are ahead of Nigeria on so many fronts, you should go and check the details of their claims yourself. Despite all the noise about the Kenyan elections, I have decided to raise these issues:

1. Fresh Blood in Politics: Not that fast – Although Uhuru Kenyatta is 51-years-old, he is the son of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president (1964–1978) – he has the name, the wealth – and the burden that comes with his heritage while Ralia Odinga, 68 is the son of the first Vice President of Kenya, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and his brother, Oburu Odinga, is also currently a Member of Parliament (MP), just as Ralia himself has been a Member of Parliament for Langata since 1992, served as Minister of Energy from 2001 to 2002 and as Minister of Roads, Public Works, and Housing from 2003 to 2005. He was the main opposition candidate in the 2007 presidential election. Following a violent post-electoral crisis, Odinga took office as Prime Minister in April 2008, serving as supervisor of a national unity coalition government.

2. Clean Records: Not that fast – Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto, who are currently leading the polls with 53.36 per cent of the declared results are due to stand trial at the International Criminal Court [ICC] in April for crimes against humanity. They are accused of organizing their supporters to attack each other in the violence which erupted after the last election. Mr. Ruto, a Kalenjin, backed Raila Odinga in 2007, but he has since switched sides. Both men deny the charges. Odinga on the other hand believes he won the last elections and wasn’t going to “take it easy” until a mutual arrangement was worked out that had his party share power with Kibaki.

3. Cost: Not that cheap – Kenya has reportedly spent an estimated Ksh 24 Billion [i.e. $280m or N44Bn] on these elections compared to the Ksh 8 Billion spent on the 2007 election by the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK).

4. Violence: Drama still unfolding – 48 hours after the elections, the full results are yet to be out and there are already palpable fears “that kasala fit burst” when that happens. While awaiting that, 19 people have been killed already compared to the 1,100+ that were murdered in 2007, in addition to the 600,000+ that were displaced. With such memories still raw, some people apparently feared these elections would lead to a new outbreak of violence, as seen during the party primaries in January 2013. There’s also been the report of a kidnapped electoral officer.

5. Voters’ turnout: How impressive is a 38 per cent turnout of the registered voters considering the expenses and drama that has been “invested” in this election plus all the enlightenment campaigns; Voters’ education efforts, focus of the international community, bla bla bla.

6. Diaspora Voting: Here we go again – Kenya “flirted” with “Diasporan Voting” but the electoral body claimed there was not enough time to have this done – and when the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission [IEBC] later announced a decision to register Kenyan Diaspora voters living within the East African Community Countries, the ten-day exercise concluded on 25 December 2012 with low turnout attributed to “logistical challenges”. The IEBC estimate was that about 1,700 people registered.

7. Electronic Voting & other irregularities: Widespread failure of newly instituted electronic biometric voting registration (BVR) kits, reports of late voting at some polling station hours after polls closed officially, and an instance of a poll clerk issuing multiple ballots have all already been cited by Mr. Odinga’s party as cause for concern.

8. Technology & Social Media: Kenya has long been described by many commentators as a “technology hub” in Africa and is home to Ushaidi [well, if you don’t know that name, then you are obviously not a Geek/Nerd/Activist…LOL] – you would have thought from the reports you hear that “Kenya was another Silicon Valley” but I guess we now know better.

9. Declared Results: As at the time I was about to publish this article, and after more than 48 hours that voting commenced, only 42 per cent of the polling centers have returned results [See:] – further increasing the fears of counter-accusations by these parties when the results eventually come out even as some rejected votes are also being considered to be “added” back to the results.

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